Coast Guard: Terminals must accommodate shore leave
The U.S. Coast Guard has directed captains of the port to review facility security plans to make sure they provide for shore access for seafarers.
'Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, there are still cases where seafarer access through a facility is outright denied, for shore leave, crew change, etc. Additionally, due to requirements put in place by facility or vessel owners or operators, seafarers are prevented from leaving their ships due to financial requirements associated with authorized escorts,' the memo said.
It points to study by the Seaman's Church Institute on the subject. The institute, an advocate for seafarers' rights, has argued for their need to be able to obtain shore leave, which has been difficult or impossible at many facilities since port security was tightened in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The Coast Guard said it has an authority to mandate that facilities under the Maritime Transportation Security Act provide reasonable access to seafarers, and said this may be the subject of a future regulatory change.
It suggests that with five-year reviews for facility security plans underway, 'there is an opportunity with the approval process to ensure the requirement outlined in regulation for coordination of seafarer access is clearly defined.'
The directive can be found here.